Bullet Wisdom

I am an Active Duty Officer in the US Army. I am a Husband, father, writer, hunter, gamer, and SOLDIER. This blog is a forum for my many hobbies as well as my random musings.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Two Weeks to Con!

So we are at T-minus fourteen days to the DFW Writers' Conference.


That's the advice my crit-partner Julie Particka passed to me a couple weeks ago when I was on the verge of losing focus and going into a full blown noob-writer panic. I'd made a list of the million things I thought had to get done before the end of the month. Her advice:

Finish the manuscript, prep for the pitch.

Two simple things. Of course, finishing a manuscript is never easy, but I did. And for the last week I've been going over the first five chapters with a buffer trying to make them as smooth as possible.

Then comes the pitch. Now a pitch is a funny animal. It's not a document. As my other friend PJ Schnyder pointed out, it's a live interaction between two people. Conversations do not come from a script, so you have to grab their attention right from the introduction. Let the conversation flow, but be able to guide the discussion back to your stories talking points.

Okay, that sounds simple, but it's not. PJ is a sage when it comes to sales and presentations. She has years of experience making big deals. So if you have no experience, how do you compensate? Easy. Preparation. I'm going to dig out some military stuff here and go to my old buddy Sun Tzu:
'If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt.'

Now, referring to an agent as the 'enemy' might not be a good idea, but the theory behind it is sound. Do your research. Read their recent blogs and interviews. Know what they're looking for and who they represent. Showing that knowledge is another form of showing respect i.e. you're serious about writing and you're not here to waste their time. Just make sure not to cross the fine line over to stalking.

Know yourself. Here's where it gets complicated. You know your manuscript. After all, you wrote it, but do you know where your manuscript fits into the grand scheme of the Urban Fantasy YA marketplace? Do you know how your protagonist stacks up against other similar characters? You should. That's knowing yourself.

So you've done that, you've married your novel perfectly to the agent's expectations. You're good, right?


It's a pitch dummy. That's just the conversation to get your foot in the door. They still have to read the manuscript. Which gets back to probably the best piece of advice I've gleaned after months of agent/published-writer stalking:

Write the best damn book you can.

Where am I in this process? I'm waiting for the email from the conference folks assigning me to an agent. From that point I'll go into Sun Tzu mode and do my homework. I'll craft my eight or ten talking points to suit their individual tastes. In about a week I'll push my manuscript to a couple of betas. Ideally, their comments will come back to me about the time I'm ready to respond to a request (fingers crossed). I'll make corrections and barring major issues the manuscript will go out a week or two of the con.

That's the plan. Now, remember what I told you all about plans?


livyparker said...

I'll never forget the smell of the pitch waiting room at the Screenwriting Convention in LA. A mix of fear and booze - really.

Ken, I wish you all the luck in the world - keep us updated on how it went!!

Kelly Metz said...

You will do fabulous. I'm looking forward to hear about how it went and what you learned. Best of luck.

Falcata Times said...

I think the Sun Tzu quote you want for the second part is:
"To remain in ignorance of the enemy's condition, simply because one grudges the outlay of [money], is the height of inhumanity."

Or to put it in modern parlance, a friendly drink may well tip the balance in your favour. (although personally I'd stick to the soft option as you don't want to try anything drunk.) You'd be surprised at the amount of information there is in the venues bars that can be tapped into.

Failing that, if you know the person you're seeing has been in the bar, have some Asparin or Paracetamol for ransom. LOL

Just have fun with it BW and I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

Ken said...

I'm going to be seriously guarded in any bars. Lord knows how many costume-clad folks will be lurking. Daddy doesn't do costumes. Scotch on the other hand...

Diane Girard said...

Remember this and you'll be fine - they all put on their pants, or panties, one leg at a time, just like you.

All the best.


Angela Addams said...

Fingers crossed for you Ken! You know - I think your training as a military man will come in very handy during your pitch - you will give an air of confidence even if your heart is hammering in your chest because you've been trained to. You're prepared (or you will be) and you're an excellent writer - good luck!

cdnwmn said...

Believe in it, and so will they. Good luck Ken, but I don't think you'll need it. :)

Jessica Peter said...

Good luck! They're not really so bad. Really!